Medulla Communications won declared ‘Healthcare Agency of the Year’ at the Cannes Lions this year. Amit Akali, Managing Partner and Creative Head, What’s Your Problem (WYP) and Chief Creative Officer, Medulla Communications, and Praful Akali, Founder, Medulla Communications, share their experience and more
Archit Ambekar | Mumbai | July 12, 2016
It’s been three years since Cannes Lions began ‘Lions Health’ as a segment to recognise work in the healthcare segment. Not that it wasn’t recognised earlier at Cannes; just that considering the amount of work done globally, they decided to introduce a category.
“When we first participated at Cannes Lions last year, we never thought that we’d be the third agency of the year in the healthcare industry in the first year of participation. When we won ‘Healthcare Agency of the Year’ this time, the whole of India and other developing nations celebrated with us at Cannes that night!” says Amit Akali, Managing Partner and Creative Head, What’s Your Problem (WYP) and Chief Creative Officer, Medulla Communications.
The brothers Amit and Praful Akali proudly brought back seven metals to India from the 63rd Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.
They appreciate the work done by networks such as Ogilvy & Mather India and others in the healthcare field. One of the popular ones is the ‘polio’ eradication campaign by Ogilvy. He says healthcare has always been an important sector and India has always done well in it in Cannes.
Excerpts from the interview with Amit and Praful Akali:
How do you think India made it big in Healthcare and Wellness Lions?
Amit: I think India has always done well in Lions Health. Even before it was a separate category at Cannes Lions, there has been amazing work put forward by networks such as Ogilvy who have worked on the ‘polio eradication’ campaign. We decided to put forward our four best pieces in multiple entries at Cannes and, yes, it worked well for us. Even when they announced us as the agency of the year, it was a historic moment for India. Possibly everyone expected a US or European agency to win the award. At that time, not only did we celebrate but so did India and other developing nations. People came to us saying ‘if you have won, so can we’. That was a great moment for us.
What was your strategy that made you achieve this?
Amit: I think focus worked very well for us. The idea was to bring in mainline creativity to digital and to benchmark creativity, compared to other healthcare agencies.
Praful: In May or June 2014, we decided to bring in a proper process in place. We conducted various workshops for different teams and developed their expertise. When I started Medulla Communications, I bought in medical experts, strategic expertise, and slowly also brought creative and healthcare expertise to the company. Gradually, we had the best minds in medical, strategy, healthcare and creative. The marriage between mainline expertise and strategy and healthcare expertise seems to have worked well for us. That’s when we first participated in New York RX awards, then submitted some of that work in Abby’s and then at Cannes. Vision and focus worked for us.
How did it feel to have made India so proud?
Amit: Initially we thought that it’s not a big deal. But later, we realised that people from developing countries were coming and talking to us about our win. They felt as if they have won. Our winning gave them hope that they are also capable of doing such work and winning accolades in the future. That’s when we felt that it’s not a big deal, it’s a great deal!
Do you think healthcare advertising has changed in India?
Praful: I wouldn’t say healthcare advertising has changed. Like Amit said, healthcare has always been an important part. What was missing was a specialist healthcare agency. Earlier healthcare agencies lacked in some or the other form of expertise. Of course, we have seen some fabulous ads in healthcare like the polio one Amit spoke about. Today, agencies are taking a different approach and that is digital.
What are some of the challenges you faced?
Amit: The challenge was to build a focussed and dedicated team that will give the best of work. Their efforts have made us win the metals for Johnson and Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC).
What is your success mantra?
Amit: At a personal level, I think whatever happens, happens for the better. Work-wise, I think everything is an opportunity. One has to do is find that opportunity and work on it and that’s what I always try to do.
What is the way forward?
Amit and Praful: We are now set to expand operations in India and in international markets. And having won the Agency of the year award will obviously help us.